CSIRO’s Parkes radio telescope

CSIRO’s Parkes telescope—for astronomy, but occasionally contracted for space tracking.

Astronomy and space facilities

CSIRO provides facilities for scientists from Australia and around the world to explore our solar system and beyond.

  • 1 November 2007 | Updated 14 October 2011

Australia Telescope National Facility

CSIRO’s Australia Telescope National Facility (ATNF) supports radio astronomy by operating radio telescopes at three observatories, near the New South Wales towns of

  • Parkes
  • Coonabarabran
  • Narrabri.

The Australia Telescope Compact Array (Narrabri) is the only major telescope of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere.

The Parkes telescope is used mainly for astronomy but is also occasionally contracted by NASA to do space tracking.

About 90 per cent of radio astronomy done in Australia is done with these telescopes, which are collectively referred to as the Australia Telescope.

About 90 per cent of radio astronomy done in Australia is done with CSIRO's telescopes.

CSIRO operates its Parkes and Narrabri observatories 24 hours of the day, throughout the year.

CSIRO is contributing to the development of the next generation of radio telescopes, such as the international Square Kilometre Array.

Canberra deep space communication complex

Each day the antennas of NASA’s Deep Space Network (DSN) receive hundreds of gigabytes of data, including thousands of images, from dozens of spacecraft across the solar system and beyond.

The Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex (CDSCC) was established more than 40 years ago and is one of three DSN stations world-wide.

CSIRO formally manages the CDSCC on behalf of NASA.

The CDSCC provides two-way communication with:

  • robotic spacecraft orbiting worlds such as Saturn and Mars
  • planetary surface rovers
  • sample-return missions to asteroids and comets
  • solar and deep space observatories.

Not all these missions are NASA’s - from time to time the CDSCC also supports the missions of other space organisations.

Find out more about Radio astronomy: seeing the invisible universe.